Saturday the 25th of January 2014
I woke up early yesterday, earlier than usual, I had to get to school for 8:00AM. I put on the dirty Shane t-shirt I was asked to wear and cycled to work. I tried to clean it the night before (Thursday 23rd January 2014) as I was pretty appalled that they expected me to wear a dirty shirt, which was also way too big. The coach was comfortable and The Borrower Arrietty or 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (Kari-gurashi no Arietti)with Chinese subtitles was playing on the big HD screens during the journey, which was nice. I didn’t know until I got back to school later on that I had actually been on a trip to Sunflower Farm or 向日葵農場 (xiàngrìkuí nóngchǎng) somewhere in Taichung, near the coast. It was surrounded by wind turbines, which was quite an impressive sight.
I learned a lot about a traditional Taiwanese cooking technique known as Taiwanese BBQ. This involved two rows of kilns created using mud bricks. The kilns were heated with blow torches and then the food is placed inside, they then planish (flatten) the kiln in order to heat the food. Essentially, the food is buried under ground whilst cooking. If you would like to see some pictures of my day, there are a few on my Instagram. There was a metallic sack which I later discovered contained chicken legs and water. This sack was wrapped in paper; there were eggs and sweet potatoes, also wrapped in paper. Each individually wrapped potato and egg was then placed into a tin, which went into a bucket to transport it to the mud brick kilns. The kilns were flattened and decorated by the children with leaves from the surrounding trees. There were noodles with taro provided for lunch and for dinner we ate the food which had been cooked in hot mud. I ate two eggs, a chicken leg and a paper bowl of what I thought was chicken soup (as everyone had some). I now realise that it was actually just chicken grease (my ‘Christmas’ chicken came with a plastic tub of it last month).
I was supposed to have four lessons after the outing but luckily one of the other teachers covered my first lesson. Although I would have made it on time, there was no way I was ready to teach straight away, I needed to drink something as I felt terrible. I bought chocolate milk from the bakery as it usually does the trick. I fell asleep on the coach, as I had a terrible headache, the kind where you struggle to open your eyes from the pain. I taught two group lessons which went better than expected and then I taught my first lesson with a new private client. She’s older than me by a couple of months so we’re basically the same age and she would like to study in the UK. I’m going to give her a really useful book English book next lesson, as a gift. I love meeting people with determination and aspirations; I think it’s important to encourage people to follow their dreams, regardless of how cliché that probably sounds.
I got home late, I showered and then I spent most of the night in the bathroom, being sick etc. as I have got salmonella poisoning. I’ve had it before, a couple of years ago at university. So, I’m tired, I’m stuck in my apartment and I feel absolutely awful but being able to look back on yesterday, it was worth it to see the children smiling and to learn something new about this beautiful island.